Hyderabad: The city on Friday joined the global ‘Shoe Strike’ to highlight the environmental crisis in the city.

Organized by 'Fridays for Future Hyderabad’, more than 1200 shoes with support messages for environmental protection were displayed on the lakebed of Osman Sagar.

The unique protest is a first of its kind environmental strike in India. It was organized in solidarity with the Global Shoe-strike that is happening in more than 130 countries with more than 7 million participants. The movement is inspired by Greta Thunberg.

“We have received more than 1200 shoes with support messages to protect the environment. Shoes have been collected from citizens across the city and represent people of all ages. A shoe strike is our way of saying that we need to raise our voices for the climate emergency”, said Vanita Khatter from Citizens For Hyderabad (CFH), a concerned group of citizens.

The venue was carefully chosen to highlight the environmental degradation of Osman Sagar. Incidentally, the reservoir completed 100 years in 2020. It was built after the Great Musi Flood of 1908 to prevent future floods. It has been encroached by land sharks and government agencies. The same is the story with all other lakes and Musi River in Hyderabad.

“Water bodies are filled to build roads. Boundaries have been altered to reduce the full tank level (FTL). Buffer zones of the lakes including Malkam Cheruvu near Raidurgam, Amber Cheruvu, in Kukatpally, Palle Cheruvu in Bandlaguda, and Nallagandla Lake. Khajaguda Lake has been encroached upon by the state civic authorities. The lake is being filled to lay roads in the name of beautification," said Arpit from Fridays For Future.

Kaajal Maheshwari from CFH added that the forests and Lakes cannot be adopted by any particular group or organization. “Technically the government is only the caretaker and not authorized to issue adoption permissions on protected areas. These natural resources are joint-properties owned by the citizens and hence it is thereby the responsibility of communities to ensure that the ecosystems are protected since they provide life-giving benefits such as underground water, fresh air, and cooler climates,” Kaajal said.

All this is possible, Kaajal said, if the citizens stand up for what rightfully belongs to them. “Would you allow a celebrity to adopt the garden in your gated community? Definitely Not. Well, these lakes and forests are also owned by all of us jointly. Why are we letting go of them so easily?” Kaajal asked.

Fridays For Future Hyderabad did a crowdfunding campaign with Milaap to raise funds for the activity.

Sumit Jha

Sumit Jha is currently a multimedia journalist with NewsMeter. An alumnus of the University of Hyderabad and Amity University. He is specialised in Video Production. He was also a contributor at PARI network. Hailing from rural Bihar has spent his childhood shifting from places and people. Growing up he felt the need to document the lives and dreams of rural India. A lover of visual storytelling goes around the cities to search for Stories. He primarily reports on civic, consumer, health, human interest and data stories. You can follow Sumit on Twitter @sumitjha__

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